OU football: Sooners' Jones and Longhorns' Ash not so different
The starting quarterbacks in this year’s Red River Rivalry are supposed to be, at least in fans' minds, enemies both on-and-off the field. But a closer look reveals they aren’t that different.
The Sooners' four-year starter senior Landry Jones was raised in Artesia, N.M., and led his high school to back-to-back state championships during his junior and senior seasons. Longhorns sophomore David Ash left Belton High School in Belton, Texas, as its career leader in passing yards, completions, and touchdowns.
Both quarterbacks were four-star prospects, listed as pocket passers with above average arms and were selected as ESPNU 150 recruits in their respective classes.
Entering their freshman years, they were expected to be back ups to the returning starters but were thrown into the spotlight when the unexpected occurred.
Jones, a redshirt freshman, was forced into action when Heisman-winning quarterback Sam Bradford was injured in the Sooners' first game of the 2009 season.
Ash, a true freshman along with redshirt freshman Case McCoy, was sent in after Garrett Gilbert, who currently plays at SMU, preformed poorly in the first two games of the 2011 season.
Jones, along with the rest of the Sooners, struggled to replace Bradford and other injured stars but finished the season defeating back-to-back ranked opponents to give the Sooners an 8-5 record. Jones had 3,198 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while completing 58.1 percent of his passes.
Ash and McCoy rotated at quarterback for the remainder of the season, guiding the Longhorns to an 8-5 record. Ash threw for 1,079 yards, had four touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 56.9 percent of his passes.
Both Jones and Ash fought off competition during their sophomore years to retain and become the starting quarterbacks.
Jones’ sophomore season was his best statistical season of his career, throwing for 4,718 yards, 36 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions while guiding the Sooners to 12-2 record, winning the Big 12 Championship and the 2011 Fiesta Bowl.
Ash has thrown for 1,276 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception, helping the Longhorns to a 4-1 record coming into this weekend.
Both quarterbacks also faced the challenge of being the new quarterback after one of the greatest quarterbacks left the school.
Jones has faced the pressure of replacing Bradford since he stepped onto the field three years ago instead of being thought of as the Sooners all-time career leader in touchdowns, passing yards and tied for the most wins in school history.
Ash has helped the Longhorn faithful forget about Gilbert’s one season as a starter, but some still yearn for Colt McCoy, Texas' career leader in passing yards, touchdowns, wins and completion percentage.
Jones owns a 2-0 advantage against the Longhorns as a starter, including a 55-17 dismantling that was Ash’s first experience in the Red River Rivalry. Jones threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns while Ash had 109 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Both quarterbacks enter this year’s matchup with only one loss, each coming against ranked teams at home.
Jones is coming off a rebound performance at Texas Tech, silencing calls for sophomore Blake Bell to take over as the starter. He threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns before calling it a day early in the fourth quarter with the Sooners up big.
Ash is fresh off a loss to West Virginia in which he threw for 269 yards and one touchdown while completing 75.9 percent of his passes. He had the Longhorns in position to take the lead before fumbling a snap, and the drive ended with Texas missing a field goal that would have tied the game.
However, down by 10 with 1:18 left on the clock, Ash cut the lead down to three with 14 seconds left in the game after throwing a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Marquise Goodwin.
So, although the Sooners have the advantage at quarterback with Jones, he and Ash are not as different as fans might think.